What are dried cherries?
As the name suggests, they are cherries that have been through a drying process, usually after having their stones removed. They are sometimes sweet and sometimes tart. Sweet varieties include Lambert, Royal Ann, Napoleon, Van or Bing and tart varieties include Early Richmond or Large Montmorency.
Harvested cherries can be dried by briefly dipping them in a chemical solution to crack the skin. This is to speed up desiccation before they are rinsed in water and mechanically dried. They can also be freeze dried or air dried.
Dried sweet cherries are a vibrant red colour and often contain concentrated apple or cherry juice to make them taste even more intense.
Dried cherries are rich in potassium, copper and vitamins A, B and C. Copper is an essential mineral for collagen formation and energy production. This, together with antioxidants, helps to protect the body from harmful free radicals that would otherwise cause tissue damage. Like copper, vitamin C is important for collagen production, contributing to tissue strength. It also protects the body from free radicals. In conjunction with vitamin C, vitamin A supports new tissue growth and helps with wound healing after injury. It’s also important for healthy eyes and skin.
Research has shown that eating dried cherries can help prevent heart disease and some cancers. There is also evidence that it can provide pain relief and improve bone health. This is probably due to antioxidants, the most vital being flavonoids, anthocyanin, quercetin and phenolic acid amygdalin.
Dried cherries contain both melatonin and tryptophan, so if you’re having trouble sleeping at night, try a handful of tart dried cherries before bed. A much more natural alternative to sleeping tablets.
Dried cherry recipes
Dried cherries are great for cooking, baking and snacking on by the handful. They can be bought either semi-dried and succulent or fully dried and needing soaking before use.
At their simplest, sprinkle over your porridge or add to yoghurt. You could even add them to a cheeseboard!
Dried cherries can be used in muesli or granola, in muffins, cookies, scones or bread. They are often in rolled oat energy bars and, of course, energy balls. They are delicious added to winter fruit salads and can be used instead of raisins or sultanas in baked fruit puddings. Try them in apple pie or peach cobbler! They also mix well with nuts, dried blueberries and cranberries, as well as both white and dark chocolate.
Delicious in salads, dried cherries combine well with chopped walnuts and sliced pears. They work well in grain salads too, try dried cherries, quinoa, fresh mint, sliced oranges and an orange juice vinaigrette. Or, if you’re after a subtle hint of sweetness with your chicken or duck, dried cherries can be incorporated into poultry dishes too.
Energy ball recipes including dried cherries: